Healthy Vending Machines Hit Chicago

Healthy Vending Machines Hit Chicago

saladIt’s time for a road trip.

This could be the smallest shop in Chicagoland, but the good news is you’ll be able to grab a bite. Farmer’s Fridge is actually a refrigerated kiosk/vending machine stocked with several varieties of salads made daily. The Chicago-based company actually prefers the term “veggie machine” when referring to its two area installations.

The kiosk itself is cool—it’s made from reclaimed wood (Modern Urban Woods of West Chicago) with touchscreen technology that’s quick, easy and entertaining to use. It also accepts all major credit cards and emails a receipt.

But, the key ingredient is presentation.

The salads come layered in a Farmer’s Fridge logo-ed recyclable jar (which can be immediately recycled at the kiosk, although we hear most folks are taking them home) to be mixed by the customer. Continue reading →

Mannequins Get Real

Mannequins Get Real

article-2488259-193B871000000578-775_306x423Who knows if it started with those Dove soap campaigns using “real” women, or if it’s the popularity of reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” or “Girls,” but there’s a movement trending to better reflect today’s female body types. Realistic mannequins are becoming more reality-sized, too—some are even sporting body art (tattoos) and body hair.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that retailers have cut back on mannequin expenses for years, going with the white, headless, one-size models. But that’s been changing with some embracing “fully” realistic mannequins with thicker waists, saggy breasts and back fat (aka love handles). And it’s happening in stores from the trendy—and body conscious—American Apparel to a bit more staid Saks Fifth Avenue to special occasion David’s Bridal. Continue reading →

Mirrored Marvel

Mirrored Marvel

Kusama_SoulsofMillions-600x450As a young child, I remember sitting backward atop my bathroom counter, opening the mirrored medicine cabinet and looking at the seemingly infinite reflections of myself in the wall mirror. The reflections behind me would move and change as I moved the mirrored door, transfixing me with looking-glass worlds beyond the one I occupied.

Seeing pictures of renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s recent multipart exhibition at New York’s David Zwirner Gallery, “Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” brought that vignette of a memory flooding back, though Kusama’s room is admittedly much cooler.

Part of a larger exhibition called “I Who Have Arrived in Heaven,” which ran in November and December 2013, “Infinity Mirrored Room” was arguably one of the year’s standout installations. Continue reading →

Selfridges Serves Up Shoes and Cocktails

Selfridges Serves Up Shoes and Cocktails

Mark's Bar at Selfridges designed by Lee Broom 16To celebrate the first anniversary of its men’s Shoe Gallery on Oxford Street, Selfridges commissioned interior designer Lee Broom to design an innovative new pop-up bar to sit alongside the department. (Restaurateur Mark Hix, who has other concessions within the store, will operate it.)

The new bar, claimed to be the first of its kind in a retail environment, launched pre-Christmas. The project, called “Mark’s Bar,” is comprised of a collection of furniture that’s completely moveable, so it can be relocated to different areas of the department store. “It was great to work with Selfridges and Mark Hix on the bar design,” Broom says. Continue reading →

Appreciating Morris Lapidus

Appreciating Morris Lapidus

stairwayI’m finishing a fascinating new book that references Morris Lapidus (1902-2001), the remarkable architect who died 13 years ago this month. Lapidus became best known for his neo-baroque “Miami Modern” Fontainebleau (1954) and Eden Roc (1955-56) hotels in Miami Beach, featuring dramatic public spaces that provided visitors with a sense of adventure and escape. Oh, and don’t forget that infamous stairway to nowhere.

But, before Lapidus gave us those now-famous architectural details dubbed woogles, beanpoles and cheese holes, he embraced store design as a profession after earning his architectural degree from Columbia University in 1927. (He also dabbled in stage design, costuming and acting as an undergrad at NYU.) He would go on to work with Ross-Frankel, a firm specializing in retail storefronts, for 15 years. Continue reading →